Have you ever had a day when nothing seemed to bother you?  Not that everything was going perfectly, just that when things went wrong they didn’t seem to get to you the way they usually do?  That tells us one very important thing about the nature of stress: it is not, as we usually think, caused by the events in our lives, rather by our reactions to those events.  Most of what happens to us we can’t control (although we certainly try our best to), but we can always do something about our responses to the stressors in our daily lives.

Not mentioning the things we can do to prevent stress from occuring (like eating a healthy diet, exercising, living the life you want to live, etc.), there are three levels on which we can control our reactions to stressors:

  1. When one becomes aware that one is holding tension in our body, there are numerous techniques (like stretching, taking a deep breath, etc.) that can be used to temporarily relieve the build-up of stress in the body;
  2. One can look into the underlying beliefs, thoughts, and feelings that are creating the reaction to the stressors in one’s life (by becoming conscious of these factors, they lose their power over one); and,
  3. One can develop an awareness (through meditative exercises) of the mechanisms of consciousness that create the chain reaction that ultimately produces stress.

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